Happy Mud Season!

Although, as I write this, the snow has returned and the temperature is frigid, Spring appeared for a brief moment and we’re pretty sure it will come to stay by the time you read next month’s newsletter.  We look forward to that – and in the meantime, here’s what’s been happening and what’s coming up!

New in this issue, our first “Featured Business.”  You, too, can have your business featured here and on the websites – just fill out the form and send it in!  If you’re a new member, you’re already in the queue so look for an email from Shira asking for information.

Speaking of new, I wanted to tell you some exciting news about our new website!  First, please know we are happy to work with our members to make payments for your dues, sponsorships, and place map advertising.  We even have an option on the website to pay monthly for your dues and place map ads (the ads must be paid in full by March 24 each year but after that, you can do a payment plan).  If you would like to make payment arrangements, please just call or email me and we'll work it out!

Also, with our new software, we can now track how many people found your business through our website.  Although only recording data for eight months, the average number of clicks for each business exceeded 330 in the first eight months.  This is especially important as today’s average consumer questions a businesses legitimacy if it has no web presence.  It is that important.  Especially as we seek to benefit from – and compete with – internet sales.

Which leads me to picking up where I left off last month regarding information taken from the "Future of Downtown" workshop I attended in January conducted by the DHED, TA Connect, and Mass Development. 

Here’s some interesting statistics compiled for and shared at that workshop:

  • Nearly 75% of consumers will conduct online research before making an in-store purchase.
  • 47% of Millennials (roughly ages 15 – 35) use social media WHIILE they are shopping;
  • 37% of Millenials spend more due to their use of digital devices and 19% have items in their online shopping cart before even stepping inside the store.

Boomers are less likely to use digital devices in the store, but equally likely to research online for savings.

The importance of having a presence on the web only increases with time.  We'd like to help our members establish your own web presence (in addition to your presence as a member of the GSFABA!).  It's relatively simple to create a new website - check out,, or, to get you started.   These will run about $150/year (more than your member dues!). 

You can also build your database using Robly (mention we sent you and we’ll get a present from them), or Constant Contact or MailChimp.  Also, go to Facebook and sign up!  It's super important and easy to reach customers through this social media platform.

If you need help, have questions, or just want someone to bounce your ideas of off, that’s why we’re here!  Just call or email the office and we’ll help you through it (see our new “Ask Shira” option below).

“Inspiration” was a big topic at the workshop.  How do you connect to your customers?  Some effective and easy ways to think about this – “INSPIRE” consumers to come to you. 

  • Online:  Facebook posts announcing new products, new hours, and events nearby.  (Be sure to let people know what “nearby” means by providing directions and using location finder apps); use email blasts with exciting content. 
  • Brick & Mortar:  Great window displays can entice buyers into your store!  Hold a vendor trunk show, send post cards announcing sales or new items, provide fliers about your products and/or business cards for take aways – you want customers to remember you and find you again! 

It’s also important to encourage good reviews from customers – 67% of consumers browse and research on-line and read reviews. When you get a good one, put it on your website or FB page;  if you get a bad one, respond and make it right. 

Some more tips for in-store success:  Make sure your sales people – or person – is well trained, friendly, helpful, and able to give advice and directions.  Offer gift wrapping, shipping, and delivery – and be sure to take credit cards.  Make it easy for your customers to buy, ship, and come back to your store.

Thanks for reading, stay in touch, and check in next month for more ideas about how to compete in the new marketplace of the 21st century.

See you around the Hilltowns!


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